Two-Start Pitchers 2014: June 16-22: Are There Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

Options are plentiful this week for owner’s looking to gain an edge from pitchers making two starts. As always, avoiding risk is critical but a little bit of reward can’t be ignored.  Want an example?  Here’s one to consider:

Wei-Yin Chen is a starter who I feel should garner a little more respect. He is available in 51% of CBS leagues yet he brings an ERA of 3.76 and a 7-2 record into the week. The southpaw will be taking the mound twice, and both times are against offenses that have had their share of struggles in the Rays and Yankees. In fairness to those who have ignored Chen this season, he really hasn’t fully turned it on until recently. Chen had an ERA of 4.34 in April and a May ERA of 4.66 to go along with his 1.45 June ERA.  He is coming off a start against the Red Sox where he pitched seven shutout innings. Strikeouts are not plentiful, 57 in 76.2 innings, but he has only allowed 11 walks. If you are looking for two dynamic performances, Chen is likely not your guy, but he is a solid option if you want to chase two wins.

Let’s take a look at how the pitchers rank for the coming week:

Pitcher Opponent #1 Opponent #2
Tier 1
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Toronto vs. Baltimore
Max Scherzer vs. Kansas City at Cleveland
Johnny Cueto at Pittsburgh vs. Toronto
Tier 2
Julio Teheran vs. Philadelphia at Washington
Michael Wacha vs. NY Mets vs. Philadelphia
Jon Lester vs. Minnesota at Oakland
Cole Hamels at Atlanta at St. Louis
Jered Weaver at Cleveland vs. Texas
Dallas Keuchel at Washington at Tampa Bay
Justin Verlander vs. Kansas City at Cleveland
Tier 3
Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Colorado at San Diego
Tyson Ross at Seattle vs. LA Dodgers
Phil Hughes at Boston vs. Chicago White Sox
Kyle Lohse at Arizona at Colorado
Yordano Ventura at Detroit vs. Seattle
Jonathan Niese at. St. Louis at Miami
Tier 4
Jason Vargas at Detroit vs. Seattle
Tanner Roark vs. Houston vs. Atlanta
Ervin Santana vs. Philadelphia at Washington
Jason Hammel at Miami vs. Pittsburgh
Willy Peralta at Arizona at Colorado
John Danks vs. San Francisco at Minnesota
Tommy Milone vs. Texas vs. Boston
Marcus Stroman at NY Yankees at Cincinnati
Trevor Bauer vs. LA Angels vs. Detroit
Drew Pomeranz vs. Texas vs. Boston
Tier 5
Roenis Elias vs. San Diego at Kansas City
Wei-Yin Chen at Tampa Bay at NY Yankees
Tom Koehler vs. Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets
Jake Odorizzi vs. Baltimore vs. Houston
Rubby De La Rosa vs. Minnesota at Oakland
Tier 6
Jacob deGrom at St. Louis at Miami
Brandon McCarthy vs. Milwaukee vs. San Francisco
Chris Young vs. San Diego at Kansas City
Josh Tomlin vs. LA Angels vs. Detroit
Wade Miley vs. Milwaukee vs. San Francisco
Erik Bedard vs. Baltimore vs. Houston
Kyle Kendrick at Atlanta at St. Louis
Jacob Turner vs. Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets
Colby Lewis at Oakland at LA Angels
Tyler Matzek at LA Dodgers vs. Milwaukee
Matt Shoemaker at Cleveland vs. Texas
Eric Stults at Seattle vs. LA Dodgers
Brandon Cumpton vs. Cincinnati at Chicago Cubs
Kevin Correja at Boston vs. Chicago White Sox

 

Thoughts:

  • Raise your hand if thought Dallas Keuchel would be this highly regarding as a major league starting pitcher in the middle of June? Ok, yes, I think we can establish that not that many, if any, raised their hands in the affirmative (unless they are lying). At this point it doesn’t look like the southpaw is slowing down, and the only shocking thing is that Keuchel is owned in 94% of all CBS leagues. He takes the mound twice this week, in Washington and in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason not to expect his success to continue. After eight innings of one run ball against Arizona, with an Aaron Hill home run being his lone blemish, Keuchel’s ERA sits at just 2.38 with a WHIP of 0.99 to go along with an 8-3 record. If anything he is getting stronger as in his last six starts, all quality starts, he’s averaged 7.2 innings and only six earned runs allowed in total. There is no reason not to believe him.
  • It seems all Phil Hughes needed was a change of scenery. Of course the fact that he was going from pitching in a hitter’s park in high pressure New York to a pitcher’s park in low pressure Minnesota doesn’t hurt. On the season he sports a very respectable 3.17 ERA to go along with a 1.11 WHIP and a 7-2 record. Maybe what is more remarkable is that he is truly keeping runners off the bases as he has issued just eight walks with his 72 strikeouts in 82.1 innings. Of course there is some level doubt surrounding his performance, as the other main reason for his success is the lack of home runs surrendered. Two starts ago against the Astros, that  changed and Hughes allowed three home runs giving fantasy owners a cause for concern. Instead Hughes eased those with seven scoreless innings, striking out nine, for the win against the Blue Jays in his next start. That is enough for me to start Hughes moving forward without issue, especially when he starts twice, until he truly gives you a reason not to.
  • After getting rocked by the Astros and missing a start with an arm issue, Yordano Ventura appears to be fully recovered. It has now been two starts since his return and he has two wins while pitching six innings of one run ball and seven innings of two run ball, respectively. However, it doesn’t mean all is completely well with the right-hander. Earlier in the season Ventura was a great source of strikeouts, but over his last four starts that has not been the case (10 strikeouts in 21.2 innings). The good news is that it has not negatively impacted his performance, but it does limit his fantasy value and gives you some cause for concern. it is not enough for me to keep Ventura out of the lineup, especially when he is making two starts.
  • Top prospect Marcus Stroman is finally here and in the rotation. He starts on the road for the Yankees and the Reds this week, and now it is time to determine whether that is deserving of a starting spot in your lineup. We know that Stroman will get run support, but is that enough to warrant a spot in your lineup? Neither offense is what they used to be, but both could still be difficult and play in hitter friendly parks. Based on his pedigree and his last three starts, I think that is enough to start him. We have not yet fully seen the best of Stroman, but it is hard to argue with three starts of six innings each with five total earned runs allowed (three in his last start) and 17 strikeouts against two walks. Anytime you see a young pitcher keeping walks down, that is certainly a very good thing and should be recognized.
  • With Eddie Butler going on the disabled list, the Rockies have turned to another young starter in Tyler Matzek. The problem with Matzek is that before his promotion he was not having complete success with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. The main culprit is walks, 4.2 per nine innings, and it is something to be concerned about. In his first start against the Braves he pitched seven innings of two run ball for the win, allowing only five hits while striking out seven and not allowing a walk. This week he faces the Dodgers on the road and the Brewers at home. Personally, I need to see a little more than one impressive debut start before I roll the dice.

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